Previews and predictions for Week 27’s biggest MLS matches

Written By Harrison Hamm on September 24, 2021

On the heels of the big announcement this week that MLS and Liga MX will form a massively expanded Leagues Cup in 2023, MLS will get back into the swing of things this weekend. The Seattle Sounders lost to Club Leon in the Leagues Cup final on Wednesday, blowing a 1-0 second half lead and ultimately losing 3-2.

Let’s run through some interesting weekend games, ending with those Sounders.

Philadelphia Union vs. Atlanta United (Saturday, 3:30pm ET, Univision)

Both of these teams have been playing well of late. Philly beat Orlando last week and played well in a Champions League loss to Club America before that. They’re moving the ball with purpose and creating good chances with their key players healthy and available. The same goes for Atlanta, who has won three straight. Ezequiel Barco looks great with Josef Martinez next to him and in form.

Tactically, it will be interesting to see if Atlanta will keep playing the three-at-the-back that they’ve been running over the past few games against Philly’s diamond 4-4-2. Atlanta thrives on running through central channels, with Martinez stretching backlines, but they also have been known to play through wingback Brooks Lennon, who has been excellent. They could try to take advantage of the Union’s lack of width.

Prediction: 2-1 Atlanta

NYCFC vs. New York Red Bulls (Saturday, 7:30pm ET)

Due to an extreme weather postponement, this is the second game these two teams will play this week. They played on Wednesday to a 1-1 draw, a game with a chaotic ending. NYCFC finished with nine men after Keaton Parks’s 73rd red card and Maxime Chanot’s late stoppage time dismissal, and the Red Bulls scored what appears to be the latest goal in MLS history to equalize. It was a VAR penalty in the 12th-minute of stoppage time.

NYCFC did a good job for the most part of bypassing the Red Bulls’ press in that game, but failed to generate enough chances to put their rivals away. NYRB looked good in the second half, especially after Parks’s red card. This one’s at Yankee Stadium.

Prediction: 2-0 NYCFC

Minnesota United vs. Houston Dynamo (Saturday, 8:00pm ET)

After a period of tough sledding, both of these teams are looking up a bit lately, though that means different things. Minnesota, in the thick of the race for one of the lower playoff spots in the Western Conference, beat the LA Galaxy last week 3-0 on the back of some Emanuel Reynoso heroics. Given their reliance on Reynoso, they are going to need more of those to secure a playoff spot and make any sort of noise.

The Dynamo have gone unbeaten in their last three matches (including two wins!) after somehow not winning a single game since May 22. As you might expect, they have virtually no shot at the playoffs. But they’ve reinserted Darwin Quintero into the starting lineup and have been promisingly competent.

Prediction: 1-1

Sporting KC vs. Seattle Sounders (Sunday, 7:00pm ET, FS1)

The last time we saw Sporting KC was last Wednesday when they dismantled Minnesota, 4-0. They probably won’t be able to do that to this Sounders team, which has been superb all season. But Sporting is formidable, and they sit one point ahead of Seattle for first in the Western Conference having played one more game. This is a good chance for SKC (playing at home) to put crucial distance at the top.

The Sounders, though, will be motivated after that Leagues Cup loss. Even if they rotate the squad a little bit with a midweek game coming up, they have the depth to make this a close one.

Prediction: 2-2

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